New books at a glance
Christoph Gutknecht & Lutz J. Rölle. Translating by Factors
Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1996. xv + 346 pp. ISBN 0-7914-2958-X (pb.) $ 23.95/ 0-7914-2957-1 (hc.) $ 62.50. (SUNY Series in Linguistics).

Reviewed by Anthony Pym

Table of contents

The title, without subtitle, is deceptive: this is basically a comparative study of English and German modal verbs which is then wedged into a general view of the translation process. As such, much of the linguistics speaks only to readers with a knowledge of both German and English. Yet the interest of the project resides in the underlying attempt to make comparative linguistic analysis compatible with wider considerations such as text norms, cultural settings and client-translator relations. The effective bridge is the description of all spheres in terms of "factors", be they of variance or invariance, that bear on the translator's decisions. Such factors are systematically described in a bottom-up way, in chapters dealing with formal elements (syntax and morphology), semantics, pragmatics, modes (written vs. spoken language), translation units (types of equivalence) and the translation situation. Despite the initially restricted field of linguistic investigation, the aim would indeed appear to be a complete theory of translation.

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